A staff member on “The Dr. Oz Show” has tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the show to shut down production, Variety has learned. New episodes will continue airing daily, and host Dr. Mehmet Oz will film remotely from his home.
The daily syndicated show had its last day in-studio Wednesday, which is when the show found out the employee was diagnosed. The staffer has not been in the office for over a week, when he first began to display a minor symptoms of coughing. On Dr. Oz’s show, the office space where the employee was located is in a separate building from the studio, so neither Dr. Oz or any of his production staff have been in contact with the employee who tested positive. But as a precaution, production in the studio has been suspended.
“This staffer never goes to the studio. He’s just in the office,” a source close to production told Variety. “He doesn’t deal directly with Dr. Oz, and he has not been in the office since last Thursday.
Dr. Oz has not been in physical contact with the employee since February, though he has been in constant phone communication over the past week.
“He had a little cough, and someone heard him cough and they sent him home. He wanted to return back to work because, aside from the little cough, he felt fine, but we would not let him,” the production source says. “Dr. Oz was the one who insisted he get tested, even thought he wasn’t displaying any symptoms. If he had just gone to his normal doctor, the doctor wouldn’t have given him a test or even suggested getting a test, but since he wanted to come back to work, we got him a test.”
It’s unclear on when production in the studio will resume, but insiders say its is halted through the rest of the month.
“The Dr. Oz Show” is in a unique situation and can continue to air new episodes because the show has back-logged new segments and episodes, which is typical for the daytime series. Like many shows in syndication, the production schedule is set far in advance and has Dr. Oz filming more than five episodes per week. “The Dr. Oz Show” typically films six to nine shows per week, and regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, the show has always been set to wrap its current season in April.
With many fresh segments already filmed, new episodes will continue to air daily. In order to keep the shows updated with the most current coronavirus news, Dr. Oz will be filming top-of-show segments from a home studio where he is set up with Skype and satellite capabilities.
“Everything you’ll see through the rest of March is all new shows and current information,” the source says. “The show topper will be Dr. Oz either live from his house or taped earlier that day.”
Dr. Oz has been one of the leading medical voices on television to inform the public about the global health crisis. He will continue to serve as an expert across broadcast, cable and local news, via satellite from his home studio. Networks have been asking most guests to join for interviews via Skype, rather than in-studio, anyway, as a coronavirus precaution.
“He’s able to continue doing his press and media to continue educating our people,” a source says.
“The Dr. Oz Show” has been one of the few shows in production during the coronavirus crisis. Most other daytime shows — from “The Wendy Williams Show” to “Tamron Hall” and “E! News” — have halted production and have been put on an indefinite hiatus during the pandemic. Late-night shows have effectively shut down, as well, with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Late Late Show With James Corden” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” all suspending production until at least Mar. 30.
Many news organizations are having to grapple with the spread of coronavirus as their staffers have tested positive, forcing them to find unique solutions to produce live television every day. CBS News evacuated their New York offices after four employees tested positive. Over at NBC, after a staff member from the third hour of “Today” show tested positive, Al Roker and Craig Melvin were sent to home isolation. As a precaution, Roker has been bringing viewers weather updates live from his kitchen. After Savannah Guthrie felt she had a minor sore throat, she began to anchor the “Today” show from her home basement, as NBC News informed any employee who does not feel “1000%” to work from home.
Earlier this week, Dr. Oz wrote a column for Variety about how TV doctors are helping to shape the narrative of the coronavirus pandemic
“For the first time in modern memory, the entire planet is speaking about the same issue with the same perspective. Doctors on television need to help shape this script,” he wrote. “We need health media destinations like my show that viewers trust so experts and influencers can share their wisdom with the public.”
Page Six first reported on “The Dr. Oz Show” shutting down production.